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5 things about the Washington Spirit’s win over San Diego Wave FC

Pride numbers, Kingsbury’s clutch save, an unexpected goal outburst, and other stuff

Washington Spirit defender Amber Brooks (22) heads the ball on goal over San Diego Wave FC midfielder Emily van Egmond (5) in the first half at Audi Field Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a lot to talk about in the aftermath of Washington Spirit’s wild 4-3 victory of San Diego Wave! The Spirit finally broke their long, long winless streak, were on fire in the first half, and became the first team to score more than two goals in a regular season game against San Diego.

And, because it’s still the very weird and probably cursed 2022 season, they nearly gave it all away late in the second half. Gladly, they didn’t, so here’s Annie Elliott and André Carlisle to chat about some things.

Finally, Pride numbers!

It took a bit, three months to be exact, but the Spirit finally did Pride right, complete with pride color shirt numbers. For the Spirit’s first Pride month celebration, in actual Pride Month (June), we were told by then-head coach Kris Ward that supply chain issues prevented the team from producing and wearing Pride numbers.

Thankfully, those supply chain issues were resolved and the Spirit were able to do Pride right — albeit in September. While turning a six upside down makes it a nine, let’s go with the better message that every month can be, and is, Pride Month. ✍️ -André Carlisle


Despite the Spirit out-possessing San Diego (52/49), completing more passes and with higher pass accuracy (75/69), Ashley Hatch’s 100th-minute penalty was the chance that pushed them over 1.0xG on the day. Instead it was San Diego who created the bulk of the big chances. Still, it was Washington who led 3-1 at halftime, thanks in large part to Amber Brooks.

Brooks capitalized on two set pieces to earn a brace — a delightful feat for a center back whose previous highest goal tally in a season was a single goal. Even better, both goals were fun! The first was tapped in past the feet of five Wave players, who could only look on as the ball they failed to clear rolled neatly into the corner.

Thirteen minutes later, Brooks got her head underneath the ball on a corner kick and arced it above Sheridan’s fingertips and into goal. Speaking postgame, Brooks smiled and laughed while describing it as the most “acrobatic” goal she’s ever scored.

Unfortunately, Brooks will sit the next game out after accruing her fifth yellow card of the season. But if she wants help paying the fine that goes along with it (and likely for her, ahem, “doubly” obscene gesture during the match), she’ll be able to find plenty of fans eager to chip in after this performance. ✍️ -André Carlisle and Annie Elliott

More like Aubrey Klutchbury

There were plenty of curious decisions, and non-decisions, from center referee Karen Callado. Alex Morgan’s second goal came after a ball floated out of play for what looked like a throw-in, but was ruled a corner. In stoppage time, after Morgan made it 3-3, another couple of weird calls put the Spirit in a precarious and all too familiar position.

A potential foul by San Diego was ignored as the ball was played to Makenzy Doniak, who appeared to be in a clear offside position. The flag didn’t budge and the whistle never blew, so Doniak then found Amirah Ali in space in the box wide to Kingsbury’s right. It was suddenly on Kingsbury to make a vital 1v1 save. These moments — the bad calls, the loss of a marker, the late game concessions — have occurred all too frequently this season, and the Spirit had failed to cope with them.

This time, in the final minutes against San Diego, Kingsbury turned it all around by making a clutch save and giving the attack the boost they needed to snatch back the win minutes later. ✍️ -André Carlisle

A little love for Tara McKeown

After missing the first half of the season due to injury, forward Tara McKeown has been on a hunt to make up for lost goals. Despite having played in only 8 games so far, she’s fourth on the team in shots taken. Though before the game versus San Diego kicked off, McKeown had just one goal to show for it (a header against North Carolina).

In this match, McKeown looked confident and determined to add to her tally. After putting the finishing touches on Washington’s first goal, she sought to repeat it time and again, delivering nearly a quarter of the team’s shots. McKeown was putting in work away from goal as well, leading the Spirit with three successful tackles and one interception, according to FBref.

Though it won’t show in any of her stats, McKeown drew the late foul in the penalty box that allowed Ashley Hatch to put the Spirit ahead in the 100th minute. ✍️ -Annie Elliott

Second Gentleman caught the Spirits

Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, was the Spirit’s special guest for the day.

In July, Senator Time Kaine was a special guest when the Spirit battered seventeen(!) shots at a stubborn Orlando Pride defense but were held to a 0-0 draw. Though chaotic, this was a much better performance and result. Sorry Doug, have Secret Service clear your calendar for future Spirit matchdays, we have more games to win. ✍️ -André Carlisle